You put a lot of responsibility into their hands: Are they holding up their end of the partnership?
Depending on your location, the change in season may have turned your thoughts to the vital importance of winterization in protecting your properties. Cold weather can be treacherous when appropriate precautions are neglected. From the disproportionate amount of damage a single burst pipe can cause to gas leaks and flooding, winterizing your properties can safeguard your assets.
Winterizing is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Property preservation is a multifaceted undertaking that includes not only seasonal maintenance and needed repairs, but also the mitigation of risk through the prompt securing of vacated properties and conscientious compliance with municipal, county and state code.
Your property preservation partner is your first line of defense in protecting your interests with properties in default. The right provider assists in reducing losses, maintains your reputation in the community, and can accelerate conveyance. These three questions might help to assess their ability to perform on your behalf in accordance with your standards:
1. Does your property preservation company offer an end-to-end solution?
You turn to a property preservation company for the assurance that all of the properties in your default portfolio will be protected and preserved for as long as you need. Your partner should be able to anticipate and manage challenges across a broad range of circumstances.
“End-to-end oversight entails protecting each of your properties from the time it goes into default through final disposition,” says Samantha Saggio, Vice President of Field Services Vendor Management at ServiceLink. “As soon as a delinquency arises, our clients are able to order immediate, regular inspections of the property, monitoring occupancy so we can secure it promptly once the home is vacant. Then we share responsibility for managing preventive maintenance, repairs and code violations to protect these assets and mitigate our client’s risk throughout this phase.”
Charging a company with responsibility in these matters shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before they begin acting on your behalf, they should not only understand and commit to your official requirements and requests but also be available for consultation when you need fresh insights.
“Clients often come to us for support when they’re making business decisions related to their properties,” explains Anthony Scotese, Vice President, Field Services Operations. “We’re always happy to share best practices we’ve seen others successfully implement. We’ve been in property preservation a long time — five decades, in fact — so we have a deep understanding of not only the challenges property owners face but also the opportunities available to them through prudent management of their assets.”
Your property preservation company should be a true partner, dedicated to a collaborative and consultative relationship. They should listen, understand and provide added value.
2. Do they act with the appropriate sense of urgency?
You obviously don’t want anyone dragging their feet at any point in time when it comes to caring for your properties, but there are two instances where procrastination is simply unacceptable: when a home becomes vacant and when repairs are eligible for reimbursement.
“The risks change when a home moves from occupied to vacant status; it’s critical for your property preservation company to secure the property as quickly as possible,” Saggio says. “Once we determine a home has been abandoned, we secure it and begin maintenance immediately to mitigate any risks associated with debris, disrepair, plumbing, wiring, moisture control and such.”
Expediency is also crucial when addressing violations and repairs. “It’s important for property management companies to understand each investor’s reimbursement policies and be aware of their allowables so that any work performed to address code violations or other repair issues is done within the prescribed guidelines and time frame. Missed opportunities for reimbursement add to the bottom-line costs of maintaining the property,” says Scotese.
3. Do they offer the full breadth of services you need?
Beyond end-to-end preservation solutions, you may have additional needs related to your properties. If you find yourself needing to reach out to several different companies to cover your needs for hazard claim and disaster inspections, REO services or asset registration, then perhaps you should seek a company with more depth. A company that can offer you more than standard inspections and seasonal maintenance may provide greater value as you leverage your relationship in full.
“We are fortunate to be able to offer a wide range of services that are customizable to specific properties and needs,” Saggio says. “When an issue comes up with a property, whether it’s in default or not, our clients never have to wonder who they’re going to call. From our perspective, the most valuable thing we or any property preservation company can offer clients is peace of mind.”
For more information about ServiceLink Field Services, visit svclnk.com.